TWO months after he handed over his land for the construction of the Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA), Prakash Koli bought a new car. He drives to the Sassoon docks with his wife daily to buy fish. He has paid off Rs 3-lakh loan to his friends and has invested the remaining amount in gold.
“I received Rs 12 lakh after I demolished my house in Ulwe. I moved out of my house 10 months ago and have nearly used up all the money I got. My only investment now is the plot of land that I am yet to receive,” said Prakash.
Ten months after they received the monetary compensation for construction of the international airport, a majority of the affected families are investing the amount. According to City Industrial and Development Corporation (CIDCO), that is developing the airport land, over 90 per cent locals in villages such as Ulwe, Kopar, Varchaole and Vaghivali, have moved out. The CIDCO has promised a compensation of Rs 1,500 per sq ft of the land parcel they owned, rent for 18 months and a plot of land in Pushpaknagar node.
A majority of the affected local residents are either fishermen or farmers while some perform odd jobs around the village. With the compensation, they have bought rickshaws or opened stationery shops. Some are also saving up to build houses on the CIDCO plots.
A resident of Ganeshpuri village, Rakesh Koli said he was planning to invest the amount in a Fixed Deposit (FD) for his children. “Though we have received so much money, it is not of much use to us until we build our own houses. We are living on rent and a major part of our money is spent paying the rent or bills.”
Rakesh recalled how his family and friends were asked to move out after the hill blasting work began to affect them. Prakash lost his job as a supervisor in a paverblock manufacturing company after it was shut down owing to the construction of the airport.
He said, “I don’t have a stable job and neither can my wife continue to sell fish her entire life. Until we receive our plots, I may have to borrow money from my friends to survive.”
The locals are worried about finding a permanent source of income. They fear the compensation might not be enough. Sachin Koli, a physically disabled man from Ulwe village, said he was still awaiting a job promised by the CIDCO. “The CIDCO called me and promised me an airport-related job two years ago. I am yet to receive an update on it,” he added.
Senior CIDCO officials said they were conducting a survey of affected locals who could get jobs at the airport.